Ron DeSantis keeps showing why he wins. The successful Florida governor did it again on Saturday in Iowa. This time he took on the RNC and won.
Bob Vander Plaats, President and CEO of Iowa’s Family Leader, held a Republican presidential candidate forum in the leadup to the 2012 and 2016 Republican caucuses. The event is meant to showcase the candidates as they sit around a table and have a conversation with Vander Plaats. It’s a more up close and personal look at the candidates than, say, a formal debate.
This year, Vander Plaats said that the event will go on later this month with this cycle’s primary candidates. The Republican National Committee (RNC), however, threatened to sanction the candidates who attended. Vander Plaats said that the event is a forum, not a debate.
“These forums are not debates,” Vander Plaats told the Des Moines Register. “This is more talking about who they are, what makes them tick, their worldview, and pretty much why they believe what they believe and why they believe they’re prepared for such a time as this to lead.”
The RNC Counsel’s Office disagreed and sent a letter to the presidential campaigns at the end of October. The letter stated that an appearance at the Family Leader event would be a violation of the pledge they made to not participate in any non-sanctioned debate by the RNC.
“It has come to the attention of the RNC Counsel’s Office that several Republican presidential candidates have been invited to participate in an open-press event in Iowa in November at which they would ‘gather around the table to have a moderated, friendly, and open discussion about the issues,’” the letter said. “In other words, a debate.”
The RNC said any candidate who participates will be “disqualified from taking part in any future RNC-sanctioned presidential primary debates.”
You may remember when Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie agreed to debate on FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier. The RNC quickly shut that down, claiming it violated the pledge.
Real Clear Politics obtained a copy of the letter.
In an October 28 letter, addressed to “Republican Presidential Campaigns” and obtained by RCP, the RNC sought to spoil the Vander Plaats event. Show up for dinner, the party warned the candidates in so many words, and they’ll be booted from all future debates.
“It has come to the attention of the RNC Counsel’s Office that several Republican presidential candidates have been invited to participate in an open-press event in Iowa in November at which they would ‘gather around the table to have a moderated, friendly, and open discussion about the issues,’” the letter reads. “In other words, a debate.”
Citing a pledge signed by each of the candidates, the RNC counsel continued, “Please be advised that any Republican presidential candidate who participates in this or other similar events will be deemed to have violated this pledge and will be disqualified from taking part in any future RNC-sanctioned presidential primary debates.”
Nonetheless, one Republican candidate said he would attend the event, sanction or no sanction. Not all Republican candidates were issued an invitation. Three made the cut. It is the last major event scheduled before the Iowa caucuses.
“The Family Leader is not a Republican subsidiary,” Vander Plaats said. “We don’t go by the RNC’s rules. We hold our own things and then it’s up to the candidates to determine if they want to show up or not.”
The three who were invited to participate are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott, and Vivek Ramaswamy. It’s not a time for stump speeches. It’s just dinner and conversations with the candidates. The only candidate speaking up and declaring he would be in attendance was Ron DeSantis.
I’m going to be there at The Family Leader. I think it’s an important part of this process.
There’s no way that should cause the RNC to penalize any candidate.
I’ll be here no matter what happens. pic.twitter.com/ItLfjAPoBJ
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) November 11, 2023
That was posted at 10:39 a.m. Saturday morning.
Lo and behold, an agreement has been made.
The RNC and I have agreed on the format of @TheFamilyLeader November 17 Thanksgiving FAMiLY Forum. The Forum is NOT a debate. Thus, the RNC is giving a thumbs up for candidates to participate. Thanks to the RNC for facilitating a win/win for the process. #ChooseWell2024
— Bob Vander Plaats (@bobvanderplaats) November 11, 2023
That was posted at 1:13 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Classic DeSantis. He took a stand and let it be known he was not backing down. He goes by common sense and doing the right thing. It’s a winning way to govern and, in this case, campaign.